‘Tis the season " to get another flu shot | SierraSun.com

‘Tis the season " to get another flu shot

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunMedical assistant Victor Cardiel gives Ricardo Fragoso a flu shot at Tahoe Forest Hospital medical office building Friday afternoon. The hospital is giving flu shots Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

As locals prepare for the onset of winter, local health officials are urging people to get ready for the inevitable coughing, sneezing and wheezing of the season with a flu vaccination.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the single best way to reduce risk against the flu is to get vaccinated each year. October is the best time for prevention, as typical flu season runs from October through May.

Both county and private healthcare providers offer immunizations. Placer County’s Health and Human Services department will sponsor a flu clinic on Oct. 24 in North Tahoe. Nevada County’s Health Department will have information on flu shot administration and clinics in coming weeks.

Private healthcare facilities such as Truckee Tahoe Medical Group in Tahoe City are already out of vaccinations, and the Truckee office is nearly out. The group has more on order, however, and is hoping to get them in shortly, said Yolanda Lopez, a certified medical assistant.

Sue Gaunt, the Placer County public health nurse, said that 5 percent to 20 percent of the population get the flu. Nationwide, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized annually from complications due to flu, and 36,000 people die each year.

“That’s why it’s important to get immunized,” Gaunt said.

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The most vulnerable populations ” the elderly, pregnant women and children over six months ” should get vaccinated. Additionally, immunization is recommended for those who live with or care for individuals at high risk for flu complications.

Some people, however, should not get the flu vaccine, including those with severe chicken egg allergies, children younger than six months and anyone who has a fever.

There are two types of flu vaccines: injection and a nasal-spray. The flu vaccine administered via injection is an inactivated vaccine containing the once-live flu virus. The nasal-spray vaccination is made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu.

The viruses targeted by the vaccines change every year based on predictions of which strains will circulate the most in that given year, according to the CDC Web site. Flu vaccines work because the body develops antibodies to protect against the influenza virus.

While vaccination is the single best way to prevent the flu, practicing healthy habits is important not only in flu virus protection, but for other

seasonal ailments.

– Avoid close contact during outbreaks

– Stay home when sick

– Cover the mouth and nose with a

tissue when coughing or sneezing

– Wash hands often

– Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth

– Get plenty of sleep, manage stress, drink lots of fluids, be physically active and eat nutritious foods